Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Wiring for Locomotion

Neuronal circuits build steadily after birth to facilitate more sophisticated behaviours

26 April 2019

Wiring for Locomotion

Our reflexes are what keep us alive when we are first brought into the world. As we grow, and the connections that form between cells in our brain and spinal cord become more complex, we acquire more advanced behaviours. Scientists have recently studied how these neuronal circuits develop in zebrafish, which grow into adults just days after birth. Using time-lapse technology, the team found that different circuits are built one on top another, from 24 hours before birth (from above and side, first column) to three days after birth (fifth column). Each circuit dictates different types of movements, with the ones built a day after birth controlling whole-body reflex movements that help the young fish swim away from predators, and those built three days after birth controlling slower, more refined movements. Understanding this relationship between neuronal connections and behaviour may one day lead to treatments that can repair circuits damaged by injury or disease.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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